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How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama medical assistant carrying patient recordsNow that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Role of Medical Assistants

Phenix City Alabama CMA holding door for patient using crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Phenix City AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.

Medical Assistant Programs

Phenix City Alabama medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Phenix City AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Phenix City AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Phenix City Alabama young woman taking online medical assistant coursesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Phenix City AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Phenix City AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Phenix City AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Phenix City AL area medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Phenix City health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phenix City AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Phenix City

Enroll in the Right Phenix City Medical Assistant Course

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phenix City Alabama.




 

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